BOULDER–In an editorial published September 12, the Boulder Daily Camera editorial board reversed its previous support for Colorado joining the National Popular Vote Compact (NPVC), and is now urging a “no” vote on Proposition 113 on the November ballot.
Prop 113 is a citizen initiated referendum on the NPVC statute, which was passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature last year. A no vote repeals the statute, keeping Colorado out of the compact.
In a 2019 editorial the Daily Camera said the compact has “drawbacks” that “subjugated state will to national interest, and the results, taken out of context, appear extreme.”
The editorial board excused that flaw, saying, “Satisfactory national results should take precedence over state-level electorate-elector imbalances. A state under the compact’s regime might find its electoral position out of whack with that of its voters as a bloc, but as individuals its voters will have been heard…”
Now however the Daily Camera says the NPVC, “is not the right method for achieving this worthy goal. In fact, it would actually perpetuate the same type of voter disenfranchisement in presidential elections that many criticize under the existing Electoral College system.”
Under the existing “winner takes all” system, all but two states (Nebraska and Maine), award all of the state’s electoral votes to the state popular vote winner.
The Daily Camera says this disenfranchises voters, “in the 2016 general election in Colorado, not a single vote for Donald Trump was reflected in the state’s nine electoral votes, which all went to Hillary Clinton, who won the majority vote in the state.”
“Here’s where the issue of disenfranchisement comes into play. Essentially, if you cast a vote for a candidate who isn’t favored by a majority of voters in your state, your vote gets erased in the Electoral College process,” says the Daily Camera.
This is a common complaint about the Electoral College (EC) system, but it is not a feature of the EC itself, it is the product of state legislatures imposing the “winner takes all” requirement, something the Constitution gives states the discretion to do.
Nothing in the Constitution suggests or requires it however.
In fact, as originally conceived electors were free to vote individually for whomever they thought was best suited to the office of the President.
In the Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton explained.
Deciding who is to be president, he wrote, “will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture [time].
“A small number of persons,” he wrote, “selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”
The Founders decided that the right to vote for electors, who in turn cast their votes for president, meets the necessary standard for enfranchisement of the people. The Electoral College was viewed by the Founders as just another example of representative democracy, like the Senate confirming Supreme Court Justices.
In reversing its endorsement. the Daily Camera is not suggesting the president should not be elected by popular vote nationwide. It is recommending that the proper way to deal with the issue is to amend the U.S. Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College.
In its new editorial, the Daily Camera says, “That leaves us with recommending a system that’s in the best interests of the country as a whole. And the best way to do that would be to pass a national constitutional amendment mandating that the popular vote winner be elected president.”
“If choosing a president by popular vote is a good idea, and we think it is, then following the process required to amend the Constitution makes more sense than becoming part of a compact that is designed to create an end run around the Electoral College system set in place by our country’s founders,” says the editorial board.
“For this reason, we urge a ‘no’ vote on Proposition 113,” concludes the editorial.